Graffiti refers to the images or letters that are scratched, scrawled or marked on a property. It entails a marking in public appearing in written words for the elaboration of the paintings on the wall. This type of art has existed from ancient times mainly in Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. Graffiti has evolved over the years and in modern times, there is the use of the paint known as spray paint and the use of mark pens. It is a crime in many countries if marking or painting is done without the consent of the owner. The art expresses underlying social and political messages to the public. There are controversies with graffiti that have created disagreement amongst the law enforcers and individuals who want to display their art in public locations. Graffiti has many different styles associated with it that has contributed to art’s development all over the world.
Gagarin and Fantham (2010) observe that graffiti has roots in the ancient Greece and the Roman Empire where the graffiti inscriptions are found on the walls of the ancient ruins. These ruins include those in catacombs and at Pompeli. During this period, graffiti was employed to pass a certain message, and the tools used included animal bones and pigment. At that time, graffiti was mainly carried out in ceremonial and sacred locations located in caves. In addition, the images drawn on the walls depicted scenes of wild animals, and the information was to guide people on what they should expect when they go hunting. Gastman and Neelon (2011) assert that, in the early days of graffiti, there was no color to paint the images; however, the art of drawing was appreciated by many individuals of the ancient times. This form of graffiti is believed to have been endorsed by the members of the prehistoric society.
The emergence of modern graffiti has roots in the ancient Greek city of Ephesus where there is an advertisement of prostitution that is located near the mosaic and stone walkway. Graffiti in ancient Rome involved curving on stones and monuments. According to Gottlieb (2008), graffiti in ancient Greece and the Roman Empire mainly displayed phrases of love, political rhetoric, and words of wisdom, which differentiates it from the modern art that displays messages of social and political ideals.
The historical graffiti has enabled individuals to understand ancient languages and ideas that were expressed. Gottlieb (2008) also observes that it has made people understand the meaning, which can be communicated through the art of graffiti, as the ancient people embraced it, to give meaning to certain issues in society.
According to Cavendish (2009), since the ancient times, graffiti has been developing in different countries. For instance, university students in France used graffiti for unifying all pupils to demand their rights. Graffiti was used to display the student’s grievances, and to demand the releasing of their comrades who had been arrested by the French government. A number of prominent poets, musicians, and students held meetings to come up with graffiti that was against class discrimination in the French society and bureaucracy that controlled the funding of education.
During the revolution, when students were marching, they created barricades that they used for conveying their message to the government. Cavendish (2009) observe that the students carried large placards written on their demands for equal funding by the government, and eradication of class discrimination. Graffiti used by students made it easy for the government to understand their demands. For instance, the students message was that they wanted no corruption in the country and that there should be structures that serve people. This led to a revolution in France because the message by the communities and the students was made clear through the graphics that they used.
In the communist Soviet Union, graffiti was used to indicate the message of the government to encourage individuals to help each other in their development programs. This was done through posters on the streets that had the message of unity to the people. The communists used graffiti to encourage individuals to practice socialism. For instance, they used it to pass their message in Germany by coming up with paintings on the Berlin walls that had the message regarding the significance of communism.
In Germany, after the erection of the Berlin wall, graffiti was used to indicate the boundaries for the West and East Germany. The graffiti used also indicated those allowed to cross and those not allowed to tour the other side of the city. This restriction sparked protests that employed the art of graffiti for conveying to the authority their needs. Graffiti was used to indicate to the people that there was a need to break the walls of Berlin. This can be seen on the Churchill memorial, to symbolize the tearing of Berlin wall by West Germany. This also symbolizes collapse of the Soviet Union through its failure to control East Germany.
Warren (2006) intimates that graffiti in the US has been inherited by the hip-hop culture where musicians are associated with painting of their pictures on banners so that they are common among fans of the music. According to Myers and Stedman (2001), other groups employ graffiti through painting of their cars to communicate a given message to the public. Graffiti in the US is normally spray painted to attract the attention of the passersby.
In isolated cases, graffiti is used to pass a political message to the electorate. Gastman and Neelon (2011) indicate that many politicians in the United States use graffiti to gain popularity by addressing the issues that affect the nation through a medium understood by a large proportion of the target population. In addition, graffiti features as a memorial tool whereby individuals are involved in creating a certain graphic when they visit a place for purposes of remembrance.
According to Myers and Stedman (2001), in the United States, Europe, and the Asian countries, graffiti has being taken up for the provision of guidance to the people. For instance, it is used on the streets, to indicate the direction to enable those who do not know the direction to stay on course. It is also used in the provision of education to people, as they address essential issues that affect the nation. Most of these countries are using graffiti as a way of beautifying the country.
Warren (2006) also observes that some countries have embraced graffiti as a source of income to their citizens. They are training individuals to become professionals so that they can earn income through graffiti as an art. In addition, some European countries are using it as a source of tourism attraction, and they have come up with competitions that involve the use of the skills.
In conclusion, it is assumed that graffiti begun with ancient Greece and the Roman Empire where there was carvings on walls and stones. Graffiti has been used to pass different messages to people, and it contributed to the French revolution. The art has been used in the world, to communicate certain issues affecting the society. Modern graffiti uses improved tools to make it more attractive so that people can concentrate; hence, the intended message becomes easily conveyed to a large population.